Tue, October 5, 2004
FORMER LEAFS defenceman Garth Butcher plans to fly home to his family in Washington state today after he was found not guilty of rape last night. Butcher, 41, was accused of sexually assaulting a former waitress in a Mississauga bar he co-owned.
In the three-day trial last week, court was told the young woman accepted his invitation to join him alone at his Port Credit hotel on Dec. 12, 2002, after a night of socializing at the Clarkson Pump and Patio.
After several hours of watching television, smoking and sharing drinks, he invited her to his bedroom to exchange massages and admitted to jurors that he hoped they might make love.
Butcher testified the woman actively participated in foreplay and agreed to sex but stopped partway through and refused to continue.
The defence's case hinged on Butcher's claim that she was fully conscious but had second thoughts when she realized they had no protection.
Crown prosecutor Christina Lynch said the Brock University student blacked out from too much drinking and claimed Butcher took advantage of her stupor until she awoke and found him making love to her from behind.
Defence lawyer David Humphrey told jurors the woman's memory of some statements and gaps in others prior to stopping having sex "was too convenient."
Humphrey said her memories of some details and lapses in others included "islands of perfect verbatim recollection" which were ultimately "too convenient."
"She says that simply too make herself look good," said Humphrey.
Outside the Brampton court at 10:15 p.m. last night Butcher said he was confident of being acquitted when the trial began.
"I'm looking forward to going home," he said, thanking friends, family and business associates "for their tremendous support."
"I'm relieved it is over," said Butcher.
Humphrey said Butcher was under an extra stigma when originally accused of spiking the young woman's drink, until the Crown withdrew the charge after toxicology tests of her blood and liquor bottles found in the room.
Butcher, who told the Toronto Sun he crosses into Canada frequently to coach kids hockey, admitted in court to telling the woman that his wife would not object to him having extramarital sex as long as she never heard about it
He also said that he had a vasectomy, so pregnancy was never an issue.